Malta gets a Winter Olympian
When French-born Elise Pellegrin announced she was going to use her Maltese citizenship to represent Malta in the upcoming Austrian Alpine Ski World Championships and 2014 Winter Olympics, her mother burst into tears of happiness.
Burning the slopes since she was a three-year-old toddler, the 21-year-old skier will become the first ever Maltese Winter Olympian.
“I’m really excited and proud to represent Malta – my roots are from there and it’s very important to me,” she told The Times last night.
Ms Pellegrin’s great-grandfather was born in Malta and moved to France for work, and it was this connection that pushed her to seek Maltese citizenship.
She visited Malta for the first time last year and fell in love with it. She now even owns a ski jacket sporting the Maltese colours.
Born in Blois, in the French region of Loir-et-Cher, she won her first competition when she was eight, starting the avalanche of passion that led her to become the professional skier she is today.
When just 10 years old, she was interviewed on a French radio station about the local ski hill and, for the first time, shared her dream of taking part in the Olympics.
In 2011 she won the women’s downhill title Champion des Vosges and on Sunday will be leaving for Austria to take part in the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships, representing Malta.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m very excited.” She will also be taking part in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.